Panetta and Petraeus should sail through Senate

Centeral Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta on Feb. 10, 2011, left and Top US commander in Afghanistan, US General David Petraeus, March 18, 2011.
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Leon Panetta and David Petraeus
Centeral Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta, left and Top US commander in Afghanistan US General David Petraeus.
Getty Images

CIA Director Leon Panetta - who is expected to be named this week to replace Defense Secretary Robert Gates - and Gen. David Petraeus - who is expected to succeed Panetta as CIA director - are both clearly qualified for the new jobs and should be easily confirmed by the Senate.

Panetta is a Washington insider intimately familiar with the workings of the budget, which will be a major issue for the next Secretary of Defense. But probably more importantly he has spent the last two years intimately involved in the war in Afghanistan. He is the man who has been running the drone strikes against the terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, making life and death decisions on an almost daily basis. As CIA director he has also been a major player in the Obama administration's reviews of the strategy in Afghanistan.

Petraeus, of course, has been making life and death decisions for much of the past decade, first in Iraq and now Afghanistan. He has also been a consumer of the CIA's intelligence, sometimes arguing that it was too negative on the prospects for success in Afghanistan. His presence at the CIA will be good news for the troops in Afghanistan since he will know -- better than any other CIA director could -- exactly what intelligence they need in the field.

Petraeus is the best known military officer of his generation but he will probably become less visible once he hits the CIA, where the director's job is to work behind the scenes and stay away from taking positions on public issues.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.